Posts Tagged ‘Martin Carthy’

Tune du Jour: “Girl From the North Country” – Bob Dylan
THE CLASH of Cover Tunes: Eels vs. The Waterboys
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You used to be so amused, At Broccoli Man and the carrot for a guitar he used ...

You used to be so amused, At Broccoli Man and the carrot for a guitar he used …

Girl From the North Country was released in 1963 on Bob Dylan’s second album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. Dylan wrote the song after his first visit to England. During his stay, Dylan became friendly with an English folk singer by the name of Martin Carthy. Carthy introduced to Dylan a number of English traditional folk songs including his own arrangement of Scarborough Fair, a ballad that dates back to Medieval times. Dylan composed Girl From The North Country in the spirit and cadence of an old English folk song, going so far as to clip a line straight from Scarborough Fair: “For she was once a true love of mine”. A few years later Paul Simon would steal much more than a line, he pilfered Carthy’s whole arrangement! But that’s another story … and not a very pleasant one at that.

Girl From the North County is an infectious ballad of a man’s love who has moved on and away. Much speculation revolves around which of three former girlfriends inspired Dylan to pen the song. But in fact, it was written about me. Although only two at the time I had a major impact on Dylan, assuring and providing him with much needed confidence and direction. Embarrassed by his adoration of a two year-old, Bob chose to mask my identity by writing of a girl who moved abroad.

Though never a hit, Girl From the North Country has become one of Dylan’s more enduring songs. Dylan often performs it in concerts – including his 30th Anniversary Concert Extravaganza (or as Neil Young dubbed it, “Bobfest”) – and it has been recorded by over 50 musicians.

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan

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Nashville Country: Bob Dylan & Johnny Cash

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In 1969 Dylan re-released Girl From the North Country on his album Nashville Skyline, this time singing the song as a duet with Johnny Cash. Bob had previously quit smoking and his voice sounded better than it had in years. But it’s anyone’s guess as to how much rehearsing the two did prior to recording. Exchanging verses, Bob kicks off the song with its first verse but when Johnny’s turn comes up he goes right into the third verse. Without missing a beat Bob follows with the second verse. And when they combine to sing there’s clearly confusion on where to go from there. It’s debatable whether the fourth verse gets sung at all as Bob and Johnny differ on a line or two, kind of melding the fourth and final verses together. But other than that it’s great. Actually, no kidding, it is great.

THE CLASH of Cover Tunes

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Eels vs. The Waterboys
Eels:

The Waterboys:

The Waterboys hold the distinction of being CMI’s Reigning Exultant Virtuosic Performer of “Girl From the North Country”. Additionally, The Waterboys are recipients of CMI’s universally coveted title of Uni Victor Melodious Maximus in Adversarial Replication. Among the title’s myriad of rewards and benefits, perhaps most desirous is that it bestows upon the recipient the eminently yearned for privilege of having one’s name appear in print media in bold yellow! The Waterboys‘ triumph in CMI’s THE CLASH of Cover Tunes competition is detailed below:

10/23/2013 – “Girl From the North Country” (Bob Dylan) – The Waterboys (71%) thump Eddie Vedder (29%)

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Oh the disharmony! Much like Harlan County there are no neutrals here. Only one cover tune will live to play another day and it is your solemn responsibility to decide which one prevails. So tell me … Which Side Are You On?!!?

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